Reviewed by DAVID L. VINEYARD:         

THIS GIRL FOR HIRE. Made-for-TV movie, CBS, 01 November 1983. Bess Armstrong, Celeste Holm, Cliff De Young, Hermione Baddeley, Scott Brady, Howard Duff, Jose Ferrer, Beverly Garland, Roddy McDowall, Percy Rodrigues, Ray Walston, Elisha Cook Jr. Directed by Jerry Jameson

   This 1983 made for television movie aired on CBS as a pilot for a proposed series about B.T. Brady (Bess Armstrong), a somewhat less than perfect female private eye with a penchant for trench coats and fedoras, an exotic mother, Zandra (Celeste Holm) who is a former B movie actress living in the past (the 40’s to be exact), and a policeman boy friend (Cliff de Young).


   The plot involves a group of mystery writers, one of which — an arrogant and obnoxious fellow (Jose Ferrer) has been murdered. The writers are Hermione Baddeley (Agatha Christie more or less), Scott Brady (Spillane down to the pork pie), Howard Duff, Beverly Garland (who writes under a man’s name), and Roddy McDowall (who writes a Saint like character but is not Charteris).

   In solving the case B.T. is aided by her mother’s old Hollywood contacts and haunted by a mysterious fellow (Ray Walston) of suspicious motives.

   If any of this sounds a little familiar it may be because save for the actual plot, the characters, setting, and the name are all taken from This Girl For Hire by G. G. Fickling — the first Honey West novel, by a husband-and-wife writing team.

   This is not an adaptation of that book — at least not officially. In fact among the army of writers on the teleplay, the characters are attributed to Clifford and Jean Hoelscher. Neither has any other writing credits; other than this film Clifford’s name appears only as an editor and sound designer on a handful of movie and TV productions.

   Is it just a coincidence that this This Girl For Hire was apparently created by a husband and wife team too (Jean could be a man, but I’m guessing not) who have no other screen writing credits whatsoever?

   I don’t know about you, but something stinks.

   It’s not the movie, thankfully It’s nothing special, but a pleasant way to kill two hours, with Armstrong a feisty likable unlikely private eye, Celeste Holm underutilized, and Brady pretty much doing a dead on imitation of Mickey Spillane. Nice to see the old faces, and the plot isn’t terrible. Nothing great, but not terrible.

   Did I mention B. T. Brady’s dad was a murdered detective — just like Honey West’s father?

   If I recall this right I think she even lives in Bellflower, the Los Angles suburb Honey is from.

   A much bigger mystery than any solved in this mediocre film is how they used the title of the first Honey West book with a plot so similar to it. You can’t copyright titles, but neither can you write a Civil War novel called Gone With the Wind and get away with it.

   Who were the Hoelschers? Why is this their only credit? And how come no one noticed or mentioned this was so close to the original Honey West — not the later Honey, or the Anne Francis Honey, but the one in the first couple of books — who, like B.T. Brady is a bit of a klutz and a bit out of her element as a private eye.

   To paraphrase Red Skelton about a joke that didn’t get a laugh — I just state the problems, I don’t explain them.

   Anyone have a solution?

   Is this a lost Honey West movie in all but name? A case of out and out plagiarism that they got away with? A huge unlikely coincidence? Corporate intrigue? Cosmic Karma?


   I place the mystery in your hands, oh mighty bloggers on this site.

   What the heck is going on here?